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Curb Appeal/45 Minutes

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By Kevin Sheehan, Special Columnist

I was on the way home this week and stopped by Morse Market. Aside from knowing most of the employees, I frequent there due to it being quite convenient (perhaps that is why they call it a convenience store?). As I exited the store and approached my car, I saw a lady having issues with her vehicle.

I hesitate, but after I determine I have a moment to spare, I ask her if everything is okay.

“Well…..no.” She responds.

I shut my car door, and go sit beside her on the curb, and she starts opening up about what is going on in her life. After seeing this was more than a five minute conversation, I ask if she would like a Gatorade and some Cajun hot boiled peanuts (from 10th St Produce, my favorite in town). I settle in and listen to what she has to say.

She pours out her life story over the past few years. She bares it all. After interjecting a few sentences and statements, I then stay quiet, as she talks about what is going on.

I spent between 45 minutes to an hour with her. At no point did I even attempt to see what was going on with her car. To me, that wasn’t the issue at hand. The issue was, she needed a listening ear. I will not share, as it is not my place, what she told me. But what I will share is the thoughts I had while sitting there.

How many people walked on by her, ignoring her? How many people thought they were “too busy” to spare a moment of humanity for someone? I didn’t force it out of her. I did not pry. A simple “Are you okay?” was all it took for her to open up. How many people would, after hearing her response confirming she was not okay, say “Well, I hope it gets better,” and go along their way?

I had so many conflicting thoughts on the way home, after I spent time with her. Thoughts about justice, thoughts about love, thoughts about faith, and the suffering people go through for the ones that they love.

45 minutes of my day went to this woman. Someone I had never met, someone I may never meet again. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Regardless of background, we have all been through some rough times, and unfortunately, not all of us had someone to talk about it with.

By no means do I mean to toot my own horn, but this is an example of the humanity I try to bring to my column. It cost me $0 to listen to her (I volunteered the Gatorade). It cost me $0 to sit on a sidewalk and listen to this woman pour out her heart to a complete stranger. Even though it cost me nothing, I will always wonder what value she holds to our conversation.

Take the time to not only ask how people are doing, but to listen to their responses. It isn’t rocket science, but simple biology that you have one mouth and two ears, so listening is quite important. It takes a small amount of patience to do something nice for someone, and takes next to zero effort to be a decent person.

To the woman with the initials J.C. that I spent my Monday afternoon with last week, I hope nothing but the best for you, and for you to find the peace you so desperately desire. I will never step on the curb we sat on (pictured) without thinking of you.

“Vivus: An Exposition of a Volatile Mind” by Kevin Sheehan is now available in Digital Format & Print on Amazon.com!

Post Script: I would like to wish my friends Matt & Justine a very quick and speedy recovery after their surgeries. I love you guys!